Nineveh Plains in State of Uncertainty as ISIS Grows

05/10/2019 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – Transitional justice and security issues continue to haunt Iraq’s Nineveh Plains, traditionally home to most of the country’s Christians and declared part of the Islamic State’s (ISIS) Caliphate from 2014-2017. The Islamic extremists destroyed infrastructure and community trust while conducting a genocide against religious minorities. Though officially defeated, they live on amidst the continued consequences of their genocide.

On Tuesday, Operation Inherent Resolve, an international military coalition formed to defeat ISIS, released a quarterly report on Iraq’s security situation. It noted an uptick this year in ISIS’s work on “reconstitution and recruitment.” It also noted that in Makhmour, a disputed area, ISIS militants are operating openly. In the Nineveh Plains, also a disputed area and just north of Makhmour, there has been a slight uptick of insurgent activity.

This Wednesday, Iraq’s Ministry of Interior announced that Nineveh Police arrested five ISIS suspects who were part of the terrorist administration. Three were allegedly part of the judicial branch, and two were allegedly part of ISIS’s religious police. If shown to be true, then these five individuals would have played a direct role in supporting ISIS’s genocidal structure.

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, Iraq’s Supreme Court announced that 514 foreign ISIS fighters have been tried and sentenced. Eleven were acquitted and released. The judiciary says that 202 are still in process of interrogation and 44 continue to have their case pending before the courts. It is unclear where these trials have taken place, but the Supreme Court’s statement urged that the trials of foreign ISIS members be relocated to Baghdad.

Iraq’s courts have come under international condemnation for speedy trials which neglect due process of alleged ISIS members, issuing them hefty sentences. There is concern that this unfair process could serve as a terrorist recruitment tool, further worsening the security situation in the disputed territories.

In the Nineveh Plains, the post of governor continues to remain vacant following Mosul’s ferry disaster in March. The election by the provincial council to fill this position was supposed to happen this week but was delayed due to the Federal Court missing their deadline on Tuesday to issue a decision on the fate of the dismissed governor and his deputies. If acquitted, the previous governor could reacquire his position. The governance structure of Nineveh remains in disarray as a result of lack of leadership. Sixteen candidates are seeking to fill the position of governor.

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